Chase v Cable and Wireless (grenada) Ltd
|29 January 2015
|GD 2015 HC 4
|High Court (Grenada)
|29 January 2015
Pauline Hannibal of counsel for the claimants.
Rosana John of counsel for the defendant.
Contract Law - Breach of contract — Agreement to purchase books — Alleged mistake in the number of books requested — Act of demanding the remaining books would have attracted public disparagement — Commercial reputation — Applicants acted reasonably — Damages.
Glasgow, M. [AG.]: The present application for assessment of damages was filed on October 9, 2014. The application is supported by the affidavit of the claimants (hereinafter “the applicants”) filed on even date. When the application came on for hearing on October 29, 2014 the parties were given an opportunity to file witness statements, submissions and authorities in support of their contentions on the assessment. The applicants duly filed their authorities and submissions on November 14, 2014. The defendant (hereinafter the respondent) filed submissions and authorities in support of its contentions on December 5, 2014. No further evidence was filed beyond that filed by the applicants on October 9, 2014.
The applicants are husband and wife entrepreneurs who write and publish what is described as “a dictionary of Grenadian Creole English with Grammar and Syntax.” On April 12, 2012 the applicants delivered a written request to the respondent to purchase 30 books to be distributed to 13 libraries across the island of Grenada. The $100.00 per book price was “a special lower than retail price” offer. On April 14, 2012 the respondent's corporate communications manager wrote to the applicants to “confirm that we will purchase 200 copies @ $100.00 per copy to be handed over to Mrs. Lillian Sylvester, Chief Librarian.” The 200 books were delivered to the chief librarian. In fact, there was a handing over ceremony at which 30 books were delivered to Mrs. Sylvester on April 19, 2012. The handing over ceremony was conducted by the applicants, the respondent and the chief librarian and was publicised through the print media on or before April 27, 2012. The balance of the books being 170 in number were delivered to the chief librarian by April 20, 2012
Further to those events, the applicants sent the respondent an invoice dated May 3, 2012 requesting payment for the 200 books which had been delivered pursuant to the agreement. The respondent responded by letter dated May 18, 2012 in which it expressed regret for a “misunderstanding”. The respondent informed the applicants that it intended to purchase $2000.00 worth of books, that is to say, 20 books rather than the 200 books slated in the email confirming the agreement. The respondent offered to pay for an additional 13 books in addition to 20 which had already been paid for. The respondent apologised for the “miscommunication” and reiterated that “it was never our intention to invest $20,000 (twenty thousand dollars) in the purchase of the books, as our budget would not allow for this.”
The issue of the money owing took a very acrimonious turn thereafter with correspondence being sent back and forth. A telling communication was sent from the attorneys for the respondent to the applicants on June 26, 2012 in which the respondent details efforts to retrieve the 170 books from the chief librarian. In short, the chief librarian rebuffed those overtures on the grounds that she did not receive the 170 books from the respondent and that the books could only be returned on the authorisation or instructions of the applicants who had delivered same to her.
The applicants never issued a request for the return of the books and as such the books remained with the chief librarian. The applicants submit that they did not dismiss the respondent's request that they demand the return of the books. Rather, they informed the respondent that it should facilitate this exercise by issuing a public statement in which the respondent would inform the public of the alleged misunderstanding. The respondent did not respond to this offer and as such the applicants never sought the return of the books. The applicants further offered that the respondent pay for the full order of 200 books by way of 2 or 3 instalments. This offer was also not accepted.
Following the flurry of missives, the applicants launched this action on October 17, 2012 by filing a claim form and statement of claim which were served on the respondent on October 18, 2012 along with the requisite accompanying forms. The respondent never acknowledged service. Accordingly, the applicants requested and were granted a default judgment on February 11, 2013. The default judgment included damages and interest to be assessed. As stated above, the parties filed evidence and submissions in support of their contentions on the assessment of damages and the hearing proceeded today. There was no cross-examination of witnesses but the court heard counsel for the parties both on their written submissions and on oral arguments.
The applicants' position is quite simple. The measure of damages to be received is compensatory, that is to say, an award that would place the innocent party in the sane position as if the contract had been performed in so far as money can achieve such an outcome. The applicants' award of damages in...
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